Category Archives: canning

Making Tomato Jam

curd in jarsbeets in jars

I have caught jam fever!  Thanks to Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars, I am now entering a new realm of cooking; I am putting things by.  I know I haven’t made a lot of things yet, so far I made some divine lemon curd, some pickled beets, which I don’t love, but am determined to eat, and the latest project, Tomato Jam!  Last Thursday was the last day of summer break for my daughter, so she and her friend Sophia and I spent the day making tomato jam and filming the entire process.

Unfortunately, due to technical issues I am unable to share the video with you, but it was quite a process!  We started with a whopping five pounds of tomatoes, and ended up with not quite three pints of jam.  I am going to make some more, and will use a lot more tomatoes.  The recipe said the yield would be four pints, but I think and extra wet summer has given us some extra watery tomatoes.  They took a long time to cook down too.  Though I was disappointed with the amount of jam we got, I am very pleased with the jam.

tomato mise

It is great, and now that I’ve made it I can make it again and adjust it to my taste.  I accidentally added too much clove (making jam with two thirteen year old girls, while one of them is making a video can have a negative impact on my ability to focus) and though I did my best to scoop it out, I think there is a bit too much clove flavor.  I will also cut down on the crushed red pepper because it is a little to hot for me.  That being said, it is incredibly beautiful!  It is a deep red, and it is thick and luscious and so good I want to offer free tastes to people passing by my house, but I will refrain from doing that.

tomato jam

If you haven’t canned anything,  now would be a good time to start.  I live in Philadelphia, and there are still tomatoes, peaches and lots of plums at the farmers’ markets.  You don’t need much in the way of supplies, and if you are anything like me you will feel such a huge sense of accomplishment, awe and pride just looking at these lovely jars it will be well worth the effort.  You need to line them up where you see the light reflected to get the full experience, though I think its best to store them in the dark.



Lemon Curd and Pickled Beets

both and

I don’t know what I was thinking, I probably wasn’t thinking at all, but on Sunday I decided to make my debut in canning by making pickled beets and lemon curd in one afternoon!  I owe this inspiration to my recent meeting with Marisa McClellan author of  the blog and cookbook Food in Jars .  I saw Marisa speak at my local library branch a few weeks ago, and though I wasn’t planning on it, I was so inspired I bought her book, and the supplies I need to start canning.

I have never, ever canned anything, and a wiser person in the same situation might have advised that I start with just one item, but I had all these lemons, and beets, a new cookbook, and no restraint.  The book is extremely well written.  The directions are clear, she indicates what you should expect, and look for and in general guides you through the process with confidence and a comfortable amount of hand holding.

I started with the beets, and prepared a nice one quart jar for canning.  I made my ginger brine, prepped my beets, sliced up some red onions (sorry Marisa) and it was all going just fine until I realized that I didn’t have a pot tall enough to submerge my jar once its lid was on. DRAT!  At that point I was halfway through prepping my lemon curd, the kitchen was a wreck, and I found myself needing to sterilize three smaller jars, transfer the beet mixture to new containers, and then process those jars in boiling water.

beets in jars

Finally I was ready to move ahead with my lemon curd.  The recipe called for Meyer lemons, but I had regular old lemons.  I had grated the peel while waiting to complete one of the steps in the beet preparation, and left the peel in the bowl of my digital scale. I’m not sure, but I believe the acid in the peel did some damage to the plastic of the bowl of the scale.  I tried to soak it with baking soda, thinking that it’s base nature might neutralize the acid, but I think the damage is permanent.  Oh well, no children were harmed, so on we go.

The lemon curd process was simple and easy.  The timing suggested was perfect, and all went smoothly.  I think I may have over-filled the jars a little because after I removed the rings there was some goop on them.  I cleaned it all up, the lids were tight, and the curd delicious (I bet it will be even better when I make it with Meyer lemons which I love).

curd in jars

If you are a friend of mine, and you are reading this, guess what you’re getting this year as a holiday gift!  Next week before school starts my daughter is having a friend spend the day with us, and I’m thinking tomato jam.  The recipes aren’t mine and I haven’t even really adapted them, so I won’t copy them here.  If you want to make these things, and a whole lot more (while summer’s bounty is still around) I suggest you buy this great book!  And let me know how it goes, please.